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`ROCKUMENTARY’ OF REGGAE WILL PLEASE ALREADY-CONVERTED

SHARE `ROCKUMENTARY’ OF REGGAE WILL PLEASE ALREADY-CONVERTED

It might not convert any audiences that are new to reggae music, but the irie riddims of "The Reggae Movie" will probably please many of the already-converted.

Veteran music festival producer Randy Rovins directed this 93-minute "rockumentary," which features performances by 21 different touring acts in several different reggae festivals held between 1992 and 1995, some of which he produced himself.Even though reggae may not be as big in the United States as it once promised, it is a worldwide phenomenon, with fans of all ages and races. "The Reggae Movie" showcases concerts in Japan, Australia, Florida and Jamaica, with all of the artists playing to huge audiences.

Interestingly, Rovins concentrates only on the music and not interviews to try to provide an accurate view of the current reggae music world. He included both the old and new faces of reggae.

Alongside footage of traditional reggae acts are some of the up-and-coming younger groups, some of which perform in the dance-hall style (which blends hip-hop and "toasted," or nearly rapped, vocals into the mix).

That leads to some mixed results. Apache Indian's irritating "Boom Shakalack" rips off both the "Batman" TV theme and "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" and Chaka Demus and Pliers' "Tease Me" (a sleazy would-be love song) are just plain awful.

Not all the dance-hall groups are terrible, though. Shinehead amusingly transmutes Sting's "An Englishman in New York" into the lilting "A Jamaican in New York" (probably paying Sting back for lifting reggae rhythms while he was still in the Police) and Shaggy and Rayvon's "Now or Never" weaves singing and "toasting" nicely into the melody.

And not all the traditional acts are at their best, either. Maxi Priest's "Close to You" (not the Carpenters' tune) isn't either dance-hall or old-style reggae - it's a sappy R&B number with drippy lyrics that read like bad junior-high love poetry.

The movie's best moments obviously come from the older or more experienced performers. Burning Spear's "Today (What a Lovely Day" and all-too-brief songs by Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor showcase some of the best male voices in any musical genre.

Elsewhere, David "Ziggy" Marley, performing with his siblings in the Melody Makers, manages to conjure up some of his late father's magic with "Tumblin' Down," which has both old and new reggae elements in it. However, Bob Marley would never have tried tricky dance moves his children use in their performances.

It would be easy to quibble with some of the musical choices (there aren't enough female acts and Toots and the Maytals are nowhere to be seen), but Rovin manages to capture both the groups and audiences well. Though the movie isn't timeless, it is pleasant enough.

"The Reggae Movie" is unrated, but it would probably receive a PG-13 for profanity, uttered by comedian Sandra Bernhard in one needlessly long scene.